Portland Thorns FC clinches 2021 NWSL Shield
HOUSTON, Texas – Portland Thorns FC are the 2021 NWSL Shield winners.
Midfielder Lindsey Horan scored a milestone goal just before halftime to lead the Thorns to a 1-0 road win over the Houston Dash on Sunday at PNC Stadium. With the victory, the Thorns secured the NWSL Shield as the club with the best regular-season record in 2021.
It is the second time in club history that the Thorns have claimed the NWSL Shield, first winning the Shield in 2016. By winning the 2021 NWSL Shield, the Thorns will be the No. 1 seed in the postseason, earning a first-round bye and will host a semifinal match at Providence Park.
On a historic night, it was only fitting that Saturday’s win over the Dash not only secured the NWSL Shield, but also allowed head coach Mark Parsons to become the winningest coach in NWSL History with his 82nd career victory.
— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 17, 2021
The road win in also marked the club’s 12th shutout of the season, setting a new, single-season club record and tying the league mark. It also matched a club record for road wins (6) in a season.
Horan tallied the game’s lone goal in the 43rd minute. It was the 25th goal of her NWSL career, becoming just the third player in Thorns history to reach the quarter century mark. She smashed a shot into the top right corner of the goal for her second goal of the regular season.
With the NWSL Shield and a home playoff game on the line, the Thorns opened the game on the front foot, with 60% of the possession and seven shots through the first half hour. Sophia Smith and Christine Sinclair each hit the woodwork in the 12th and 26th minutes, respectively. But the persistence in the attack paid off just minutes from half time on Horan’s game-winning goal.
The match intensified in the second half as the Dash found more of the game; the two sides finished nearly even on shots 16-13 in favor of the Thorns. Sinclair had another chance in the second half cleared off the line in the 68th minute. And overall, Portland generated its 16 shots from eight different players.
The Thorns conceded five chances on goal en route to earning a league-best 12th clean sheet this season. Goalkeeper Bella Bixby recorded five saves, including three on chances by Dash forward Nichelle Prince, to record her eighth shutout of the NWSL campaign. Bixby and the backline did well over the final 10 minutes to thwart a series of chances by Houston.
Next up: Portland closes the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 30, against the North Carolina Courage at Providence Park; kickoff is 7 p.m. (Pacific).
43 – POR – Smith played the ball in from the left side. Forward Morgan Weaver got a touch on the ball to put it into space at the top of the box. Horan, on a trailing run, ran onto the ball and hammered home the winner.
Portland Thorns FC (13-6-4, 43pts) vs. Houston Dash (9-9-5, 32pts)
Oct. 17, 2021 – PNC Stadium (Houston, Texas)
POR: Horan (Weaver), 43
HOU: Chapman (caution), 52
POR: Rodríguez (caution), 60
POR: GK Bixby, D Kuikka, D Menges, D Sauerbrunn, D Klingenberg (Hubly, 90), M Salem, M Horan, M Rodríguez (Ryan, 90+2), M Sinclair (c) (Dunn, 75), F S. Smith (Charley, 75), F Weaver (Lussi, 89)
Substitutes Not Used: GK A. Smith, D Pogarch, M Everett, M Moultrie
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Horan, Smith, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Horan, 2); FOULS: 14 (Rodríguez, Weaver, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 5
HOU: GK Campbell, D Hanson, D Naughton, D Dahlkemper, D Chapman, M Schmidt (Groom, 77), M Seiler, M Mewis, F Visalli (Latsko, 68), F Daly (c), F Prince
Substitutes Not Used: GK Harris, D Oyster, M Hauksdottir, M Gomera-Stevens, F Spencer, F Abam, F Alozie
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Prince, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Prince, 3); FOULS: 5 (Chapman, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 3
Referee: Luis Guardia
Assistant Referees: Alicia Messer, Salma Perez
4th Official: Alexandra Theriot
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial